Our latest blog reflects on COVID-19's impact on the healthcare industry and the role that data had in keeping it together.
In 1966, Robert Kennedy delivered a speech that included the following observation: “There is a curse which says, “May you live in interesting times.” As a front line to the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare has confronted this reality more starkly than almost any industry.
In a retrospective look at the impacts of COVID-19, a Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation poll of 1,300 front-line healthcare workers found that the top concern due to working amidst the pandemic was “fears of infection for themselves, their family members or patients.” Indeed, fear has a potent ability to drive our actions today, our plans for the future, and the confidence we feel about our current situation. In fact, a recent Harvard study concluded that “fear and anxiety have a habitual component to them—the memory of something that provoked fear in the past will trigger a habitual fear response when we are reminded of the event, even if there is no actual present-moment threat.”
Healthcare organizations have contended with such fear due to threats and challenges on many fronts during the pandemic, including potential negative impacts to healthcare quality and care delivery, as well as addressing uncertainties related to future novel infections and unforeseen threats. Many healthcare organizations have used the pandemic as an opportunity to strengthen protocols and implement relatively simple changes that have now become the standard of care. For example, NYC Health + Hospitals have made physical changes to their care spaces to ensure safety, re-designing patient rooms and complementing efforts with new airflow technologies to treat patients.
The Silver Lining for Healthcare Organizations
Despite the strains and stresses thrust upon the healthcare industry, COVID-19 has not only positioned healthcare organizations to be more resilient in terms of addressing the immediate challenges of ventilator supply and care coordination in a crisis – it has also created more thoughtful and deliberate use of new data to enhance resilience for many circumstances, such as general emergency preparedness.
Many organizations have found that the corrective mechanisms established to confront the immediate crisis of COVID-19 will have far-reaching implications and benefits across numerous applications. For example, Modern Healthcare notes in their article, Rethinking healthcare quality and safety in the age of COVID, organizations such as the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences (part of UPMC) have placed a “specific focus on quality outcomes related to racial disparities, arguing that “this will change our data and analytics going forward. We have looked at every measure we report to our board and have started to overlay a diversity lens on those, to figure out better opportunities to drive clinical outcomes for diverse populations.” UPMC contends that “Those challenges are going to live long into the future, beyond COVID.”
The same Modern Healthcare article also notes, by “scrutinizing their techniques, many health systems discovered weaknesses in old protocols, and found new ways to improve care and infrastructure with lasting impacts beyond the pandemic.”
Data is the Glue That Ties It All Together
Origami’s Healthcare Practice Lead, Bill Schwacke, noted in a previous interview that the COVID crisis is “creating an awareness of solutions for problems [healthcare organizations] are facing right now. This pandemic is going to prepare them for the next time something like this happens and they're going to be aware that we have these solutions.”
Central to this preparedness is data — a higher volume of data points available and ways to effectively drive more insight from them. As we highlighted in a prior article, “to get in front of incidents and prevent them from occurring, hospitals and healthcare organizations need access to a significant amount of data. The more data captured, the more insight that can be derived from it.”
In addition to the sheer volume of data available, the specific applications and uses of data not only proliferated during the pandemic but also expanded the benefits realized from extending data throughout the organization, including:
- The widespread adoption of remote care and telemedicine
- Integration of data into a more unified platform to gain more insight into risk management initiatives and results
- More collaboration, teamwork, and innovation across previously disparate and siloed departments and systems
In the midst of the pandemic in September 2020, an Origami-led panel discussion with executives from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, AON, and Inspirien focused on these and other impacts to healthcare organizations. From the “eye of the storm,” these individuals were clear about how invaluable a solution like Origami Risk is to manage and unify data that often resides in antiquated, disparate, manually-managed, and disconnected systems — in many cases “homegrown” spreadsheets, Word documents, and even on paper. In fact, in a poll we conducted, 57 percent of respondents were capturing data in such systems, while only 48 percent were capturing risk management initiative data in a RMIS. Margaret Nekic (President and CEO, Inspirien) noted, “Origami has been a robust tool for our medical malpractice and worker’s compensation lines of business — in terms of its claims processing and policy administration functionality. We have also found the platform to be invaluable from a business continuity planning (BCP) perspective as we’ve responded to COVID-19.” Business Continuity Management is important to gain a comprehensive understanding of the organization’s readiness and monitor the entire resiliency process. Preparing for unforeseen and disruptive events such as COVID-19, along with the ability to rebound from them, are a factor on which businesses must now be able to compete.
Origami Risk addresses the ambiguity and chaos that has plagued healthcare organizations during the pandemic by helping to bridge the disparities between departments. Patient Safety and Quality teams, for instance, can benefit from automation functionality that allows for widespread, consistent communication across an organization. Beyond simply informing the key stakeholders that a near miss or incident has occurred, this functionality can also precipitate meaningful action by seamlessly communicating the next steps to the appropriate stakeholders. This allows functions throughout the organization to not only take preventative action, but also enables learning from the event. These steps are crucial to enabling a unified approach to risk management, and to moving the organization toward the goal of instilling a high-reliability culture.
A Forbes article from 2020 explained that trust is the antidote to fear, and that “information is critical to the collaboration and co-creation that these times require.” Having a trusted data intake and processing system in place has allowed many organizations to improve care and reduce errors, and thus improve care outcomes and ultimately quality scores. Solutions such as Origami Risk can proactively promote awareness of potential risks and points of failure, enabling everyone within the health system to access necessary information expediently, thus reducing overall risk, and managing preventable conditions such as HAIs and re-admissions.
For more information on Origami Risk’s healthcare solutions for COVID-19, read our solution summary. And for a comprehensive look at all of Origami Risk’s COVID-19 resources for the healthcare industry, click here. To learn more about Origami’s unified solution that can help healthcare organizations handle challenges that disparate data poses across departments, request a demo.